SEO Tips

How to Conduct a Comprehensive SEO Audit a Step-by-Step Guide?

Are you aware of how well your website works? For your website to rank well in search engines, you need to conduct regular SEO audits. Conducting an audit can be intimidating, especially if you only have a basic understanding of SEO. However, your skill and knowledge should also continue to develop as the marketing industry grows.

In this article, we’ll discuss what SEO audits are, why they’re essential, and how to conduct a comprehensive SEO audit step-by-step.

What Exactly is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit examines your website’s overall health and identifies areas for optimization to improve search engine rankings. It is essential to conduct regular audits since search engines, like Google, frequently update their algorithms based on new technology and user search patterns.

A thorough SEO audit is a critical first step for any digital marketer, whether in-house or outsourced. It allows you to evaluate your current SEO efforts, regardless of their extent, and take necessary actions based on the insights obtained.

Why is an SEO Audit Significant?

Evaluating a website’s health and usability internally and externally is crucial. To accomplish this, you must internalize various factors, such as the sitemap, anchor text, and social media platforms. In addition, an in-depth audit can reveal red flag issues that require your attention, including load time and Google penalties resulting from unintentional SEO mistakes.

Undertaking an external audit is equally essential, as it provides detailed feedback on best practices for content and linking. While a complete SEO audit may be complicated and technical, it can significantly boost your revenue when done correctly.

It is essential to investigate your website’s overall performance regularly. Consider performing a monthly check using some tools and having an expert review your website annually. Although it may not sound exciting, it’s a critical step to ensure your website is functioning at its best.

6 Steps Guide to an SEO Audit

A comprehensive SEO audit will assist you in identifying areas for development and creating a road map for success. We’ll lead you through the essential steps to conducting a full SEO audit in this 7-step guide. It will cover everything from evaluating your website’s present status and assessing on-page and off-page optimization to reviewing your backlink profile and analyzing your analytics metrics.

Step 1: Analyze your websites status

Firstly, assess your website’s design and layout to ensure it’s visually appealing and easy to navigate. In the next step, check your website for any broken links or errors. Otherwise, it will have a negative impact on users, and they will most likely leave your website. You can use Google Analytics and Search Console to identify and fix those errors. Another major thing for SEO is site speed, don’t forget to test it. There are specific tools to do that, Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.

As mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, over the years dominated web surfing, verifying their mobile compatibility is essential for SEO. Not only that, but apparently, search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their search results, and they would be most likely to rank higher than those who don’t have it. Additionally, research shows that customers prefer to stay longer on a site if it is mobile-friendly.

Step 2: Assessing on-page optimization

For those who need to become more familiar with the on-page optimization concept, it refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher on Google and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. It involves optimizing website page elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, content, images, etc.

First thing first, you check title tags and meta descriptions that users see on search engine results pages (SERPs). Ensure title tags and meta descriptions are concise, unique, and accurately reflect the page’s content. Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze your website’s title tags and meta descriptions. They could identify any opportunity for improvement.

Secondly, analyze header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.); they help search engines, and users better understand the content’s structure. Essential to check if each page has only an H1 tag and if other titles go hierarchically. To make it easier for you to analyze header tags, you can use tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Thirdly, as you may know, content is king and doesn’t differ regarding on-page optimization. You must ensure that your website content is high quality, up-to-date, meaningful, informative, and naturally includes the target keywords. Tools that will help improve your content are the same as for tag titles and meta descriptions SEMrush and Ahrefs.

And lastly, verify schema markup for engines better understand a website’s content. Did you know that Google offers better results to searchers when it knows entities on a deeper level? To verify that your website’s schema markup is correctly implemented, use Google’s Schema Markup Testing Tool.

Step 3: Examining off-page optimization

Off-page optimization refers to factors that impact your website’s ranking that are not directly related to your website’s content. It includes elements like backlinks, social media presence, and mentions on other websites.

Examining off-page optimization might take time, but it’s vital to improving your website’s visibility and search engine ranks. Off-page optimization can be explored with the following tools and techniques:

Backlinks: The most important element of off-page optimization is backlink analysis. Using Ahrefs or SEMrush, you can determine your website’s backlink profile. Consider the number of backlinks, the connecting websites’ quality, and the linking content’s relevance.

Social media presence: Maintain an active and engaging social media presence. Why? Well, social media presence can provide valuable external links to a website, helping to increase its authority and visibility in search results. Use platforms like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to manage your social media presence for better results.

Local Listings: Local listings such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook Local might impact your site’s visibility in local search results. Review your local listings to ensure they are correct and thorough. Make sure the info is not outdated, and you are updating it regularly.

Brand references: Brand references are instances of your brand being mentioned on other websites. These mentions can have an effect on how well your website ranks in search engines. Tracking brand says with systems like Ahrefs or Google Alerts allows you to contact webmasters for backlinks or other opportunities for partnership. Building backlinks and collaborations can boost your website’s authority and visibility in search engines.

Analyze your competitors: Analyzing what your competitors are doing in terms of off-page optimization strategies may provide substantial insights and opportunities for advancement. Using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, examine your competitors’ backlink profiles, social media presence, and other off-page SEO features.

Step 4: Keywords research

In the world of SEO, the significance of keywords cannot be emphasized enough. Using the appropriate keywords can attract the right audience to your website. So, the first thing you need to do is to know your audience; what are they searching for? What questions are they searching for? Are they searching for problem solutions that your company may offer?

After you know your target audience, you have to pick the right keywords to match their needs. For keyword searching, you can always brainstorm ideas with colleagues. Share your ideas of potential keywords that you’re your target audience might search for to find your website on search. Some useful tools can help you generate ideas: Google Keywords Planner, Semrush, or Ahrefs.

You got your keywords; what’s next? You must research your keyword’s search volume and competition level. In order to rank highly on search engines, you should choose keywords with high search volumes and low competition, as these will be easier to rank for and more likely to generate organic traffic.

Analyzing your competitors’ websites can also be helpful for identifying potential keywords. You might consider targeting similar keywords in your own content based on what keywords your competitors rank for.

Finally, once you have done everything mentioned, you optimize your website and content according to those keywords and strategically place them in the meta description, title tags, or header tags.

Step 5: Reviewing the website’s backlink profile

Backlinks are links that point from one website to a page on another website using anchor text. They are also known as “inbound links,” “incoming links,” or “one-way links.” Search engines like Google view backlinks as “votes” for a specific page, indicating its relevance, quality, and authority. Pages that have a high number of relevant backlinks tend to rank higher in organic search engine results.

Here’s how you can review your website’s backlink profile:

Use backlink analysis tools: There are several backlink analysis tools available, such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and Moz. These tools allow you to check the number and quality of backlinks to your website. Analyze your backlink profile and identify any low-quality or spammy backlinks that may harm your website’s ranking.

Check for broken links: Broken links can negatively impact your website’s user experience and search engine ranking. Use a broken link checker tool to identify and fix any broken links on your website.

Monitor competitor backlinks: Analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile can provide insights into potential link-building opportunities for your website. Use backlink analysis tools to check your competitors’ backlinks and identify any opportunities to acquire high-quality backlinks for your website.

Focus on quality over quantity: It’s essential to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks rather than a large number of low-quality backlinks. High-quality backlinks come from reputable and relevant websites in your niche.

Disavow harmful backlinks: If you identify any toxic or spammy backlinks in your backlink profile, you can disavow them using Google’s disavow tool. This will help to ensure that these backlinks don’t harm your website’s ranking.

Step 6: Analyzing the website’s metrics

The final step is to analyze the metrics of the website, it can help you identify your most popular pages and content, discover areas you could improve, it will help you understand users’ behavior better for who they are most interested in. The main goal of this step is to understand your website performance, like the traffic you get, bounce rates, conversion rates, and session durations.

Ahrefs ir Semrushor Google Analytics are useful tools for maintaining high performance. It will help you to optimize your website’s search engine visibility and enhance user experience.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, conducting a comprehensive SEO audit is critical for any website owner or digital marketer who wants to improve their website’s search engine ranking and visibility. By following the 7-step guide outlined in this article, you can assess the current status of your website, evaluate on-page and off-page optimization, review your backlink profile, and analyze your analytics metrics to identify areas for improvement.

Regularly conducting SEO audits can help you stay ahead of your competitors, adapt to changes in search engine algorithms, and ensure that your website is functioning at its best. So, don’t hesitate to start your SEO audit today and take the necessary actions to achieve online success.

The Fortis Media team can help you develop an effective SEO strategy that leads to online success and growth. Just contact us and get a free audit.


How The US iGaming Market Compares To The Rest Of The World?

The US iGaming market is growing fast, especially with several states advancing to legalizing and legislating online gambling and sports betting. In January 2023, Massachusetts became the 36th state to legalize online sports betting, opening doors for local registered sportsbooks to operate in the Bay State.

However, when we talk about online casinos only seven U.S. states have licensed operators. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey became the first states to allow online poker and casino gambling in 2013 and since then only four more have adopted the same route: Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


Demographics Of Sports Bettors In The U.S.

To differentiate the age, ethnicity and sex of sports bettors in the U.S., Dwyer, Hayduk and Drayer made a study comparing how players behave in legal states and in states where gaming is illegal. The study was conducted in 2021 but presents some interesting findings about the demographics of bettors and whether it changes between states where sports betting is legal or not.

According to this research in legal states the vast majority of bettors in legal states are male (78%), Caucasian (75%), in the Gen X age gap (51%) – the generation that was born between the 60s and 80s. The previous generation (baby boomers) follows up (27%), with Millennials also having a considerable percentage (17%). The younger generation, Gen Z, only averages 6%.

Meanwhile, still in the legal states, the vast majority of players have an income between $50.000 to $99.000/year (41%). The lower class, people with an income lower than $50.000 average for 35% of sports bettors in legal states.

In illegal states we do not see any major discrepancies compared to these numbers. However, when researchers looked up for appeal for gambling by region, they found that in illegal states the U.S. South states showed the higher interest than any other region (51%). Something which is understandable, considering most states in the South have not yet legalized sports betting, including Texas and Florida.

Sports Betting Demographics USA

How U.S. compares to the rest of the world?


When compared to the 26 countries currently in the European Union, most of them have online gambling operators that are licensed and allow players to engage in poker, slots and roulette games, for example. Nonetheless, they still have some restrictions which allow only local brands to operate and even exclude some games (for example in Cyprus you can’t bet on horse racing events).


In Asia it’s a different story. Although there are some gambling capitals, like Macao in China, there are very strict laws against gambling in most countries. Until recently India allowed foreign gambling operators, but they have banned it from 2023.


Meanwhile, Africa has risen as an opportunity for foreign operators as two of major countries in the continent have legislated online gambling. South Africa was a pioneer, introducing legislation to regulate the market in 1990. Nigeria’s government who had outlawed online gambling in the past has recently introduced legal framework that allows operators to license their businesses in the country.

Australia & New Zealand

In what concerns the two major countries in Oceania online gambling and sports betting is legal. Although, in Australia you can only place online sports bets in bookmakers that are licensed in the country. Meanwhile, for online casino games, you can play them in Australia as long as the websites accept Aussie players.

What about New Zealand? Well, the laws for Kiwi players are similar to the ones that their Australian neighbors have. This means that if online sports betting companies and online casinos are registered and licensed in New Zealand and they operate under the laws in place they can perform their activity legal, and players are free to engage in gambling activities.

Latin America

In Brazil, the biggest country in South America, sports betting is legal since 2018. Meanwhile, online casino gambling is still illegal, but according to a recent survey almost half of Brazil’s population has admitted having played online casino games, mostly through their mobile devices. Even though it is illegal there are no arrests or charges for players, which unfortunately has seen the number of scammers grow in the past years.

Colombia has also adopted some legislation in 2016, but a couple setbacks has made online gambling be banned again. Private companies can still operate with government admission, but that has not stopped foreign investors from coming and using loopholes to be active in the country. As of the end of 2022, there were over seven million registered iGaming accounts, totaling a revenue of $5.3 billion a year. 

Meanwhile, in Argentina, the current soccer world cup champion since last December, online gambling and sports betting is legal in most of the country. The major exception is the city of Buenos Aires, but it is expected that new legislation will cover the whole state soon.

Canada & Mexico

What about the two countries that border the U.S.: Canada and Mexico? Well, as for Canada, both online gambling and sports betting are legal. Many online casinos in Canada refer to Kahnawake Commission for registering and obtaining their license to operate legally. Still, there are many offshore casinos operating in Canada without repercussions. Sports betting is also mostly legal in all of Canada’s territory, although in the regions of Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest you can only bet on retail land based shops.

In Mexico online gambling is legal under certain conditions, since 2004. As long as operators respect the regulations of federal games and draws law. Also, sports betting is legal and heavily promoted, especially in soccer games.

Fastest Growing Markets For iGaming And Sports Betting

Right now, for investors looking to expand their iGaming services abroad there are a few countries that should be seen as major opportunities. Brazil is definitely the first one that comes to mind, with the iGaming market expected to grow to 12billion Brazilian Reais (BRL) – around $2.3b USD – in 2023. This is a growth of 71% compared to 2020. The expected CAGR for sports betting market from 2023 to 2026 is 34.95%.

Another country with a booming iGaming market that is expanding fast is South Africa. As mentioned before, they were one of the first countries in the African continent to legislate online gambling back in the 90s. And sports betting, online poker and roulette are more popular than ever, with an expected growth of 12.6% from 2021 to 2026.

Nigeria would be another country whose iGaming industry is growing fast. Especially with the new legal framework imposed by their government, operators can now become licensed in Nigeria. It is expected than until 2026 the iGaming industry grows 12.35% in Nigeria.

Another country which we already mentioned before and that presents a chance for investment is Colombia. Their growth expectancy until 2026 is 11.35% and online gaming is regulated by Coljuegos.

And finally, Kenya, whose iGaming industry should achieve an expansion of 10.98% until 2026. However, bear in mind that Kenya does have legal online casino and sports betting, but all activities should be conducted through licensed operators.

US vs Rest Of World CAGR

Final Thoughts

Compared to the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the countries mentioned before, the U.S. is expected to grow 10.3% by 2030.

Nonetheless, the biggest obstacle for growth of sports betting and iGaming markets in U.S. are state legislators. Since most countries mentioned before normally make decisions that affect the whole of their territory, while in the U.S. these changes in laws vary from state to state.

So, the expected growth we have mentioned might change if we see some bigger states like Texas or Florida progressing with their laws. We saw Massachusetts doing it recently on sports betting, which saw fans of Boston Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots being able to bet on their teams through legal means.

So, we would not rule it as impossible that other states will join and if that happens, we might see the iGaming and sports betting industry grow more than the expected number and surpass the competition of countries abroad. Even though they present more attractive markets for investors right now, this might change in the near future.

Contact us today and get a free SEO audit for your iGaming company.

Marketing Strategies

How Can Employer Branding Bring You Value?

In today’s competitive digital and offline landscape, businesses must establish a positive reputation, as consumers tend to engage more frequently with trusted businesses.

86% of job seekers research a company’s reputation and brand before applying. No matter how large the salary might be, 75% of candidates don’t want to work for a company with a bad reputation.

Creating compelling brand stories around your products or services is a great start for a positive reputation building, but what about your employer brand?

There’s no denying the importance of managing your employer brand in a tight labor market, but the truth is that it must be always managed and influenced proactively; the importance cannot be overstated.

In this article, you will learn how employer branding can bring value to your company and receive tips on creating a successful employer branding strategy.

Let’s dive in.

And don’t forget to explore our recent work:

What is Employer Branding?

It is the process of building and promoting a company’s reputation as an employer of choice. Companies must create a positive image of themselves to attract potential candidates and employees and highlight their values, cultures, and benefits.

It is a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent, reducing recruitment costs, as well as improving employee engagement and productivity to have a strong employer brand.

How does Employer Branding Benefit your Organization?

The task of recruiting and retaining the best employees becomes challenging – and costly – without employer branding. To drive your business forward, you need talented, leadership-bound employees, and the best way to find them is by casting the impression that your company is a great place to work.

Did you know that 9 out of 10 candidates would apply for a job when it’s from an employer brand that’s actively maintained? It’s not just the salary and benefits you offer; it’s the organization’s culture and how it treats its employees that can significantly affect the impression you want to make on prospective applicants.

Here are 6 reasons why employer branding is useful:

1.     More brand visibility and trust

The phrase “Nothing personal, it’s just business” is unsuitable when selling in B2B. By building brand trust and visibility, you don’t have to look too far; your employees in this situation are your advocates.

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you”

– Zig Ziglar

A person who shares information from his background personally will always increase his network with acquaintances that would link him to his professional experience. So, when in need, a person from his network will know whom to contact for consultation or services directly.

2.     Increases website traffic and conversions

By creating a positive employer brand, you can also increase website traffic and conversions, leading to more significant revenue and sales for your company. For example, you can ask your employees to share their knowledge and share it on social media. It will be even more believable when you share actual quotes from current employees.

3.     Helps to attract new candidates (HR)

A strong employer brand can help HR teams attract high-quality candidates who fit the company’s culture and values well. Did you know that 62% of organizations say that employer branding is one of their most critical HR functions?

4.     Gives attractive storytelling opportunities

A solid employer brand also offers interesting storytelling possibilities that can be used to interest potential candidates and employees. It helps attract the attention of future talents and inspires them to work for your company. Not only that, but it also attracts like-minded candidates who can relate to your storytelling.

5.     Employees feel more confident in their field

A stronger employer brand can also help employees feel more confident in their area, which leads to higher job satisfaction and productivity. Give your employees a voice and the right platform; they will give you excellent employer branding in return.

6.     They improve their personal branding as well

Finally, a strong employer brand can help employees improve their personal branding, making them more attractive to potential employers in the future. Because it will help them.

What Channels Should be Used for Employer Branding?

1.     LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media platform that’s great for businesses wanting to connect with potential clients or others in their industry. Potential job candidates often research potential employers on LinkedIn to determine if they would be a good fit for the company.

Using LinkedIn to show your company’s expertise can help establish your business as a leader in your industry and attract good leads. LinkedIn is also useful for advertising job openings, communicating with your employees, and reaching potential clients through paid advertising.

Additionally, LinkedIn provides a suite of tools for businesses to create and promote their employer brand, including company pages, job postings, employee testimonials, and targeted advertising options.

Interesting facts:

  • You can reach 900.2 million users.
  • Most popular in The United States has at least 200.0 million registered users, and India has 99.0 million registered users.
  • Most active demographic is men with 56.3%, and 60% of users are around 25-34 years old.
  • Ideal for B2B companies.

2.     Glassdoor

Another great platform for employee branding is Glassdoor. The platform allows current and former employees to leave anonymous reviews about their experience in your company. They can provide information about salaries, bonuses, promotions, interview questions, etc.

As you already know, employer branding refers to a process that helps you create a positive reputation and image of a company’s culture, and The Glassdoor platform can help you with it. As current and former employees can share their experiences. A positive review can attract potential job candidates, while a negative review can deter them.

In fact, 62% of Glassdoor users agree that their opinion of a company improves after an employer responds to a review.

Interesting facts:

  • Glassdoor has 55 million monthly visitors.
  • America was the first country to gain access to Glassdoor.
  • Most active demographic is women, with 51%.
  • 60% of Glassdoor users read at least five reviews before deciding on a company.

How to Ensure Successful Employer Branding?

1.     Motivate employees

Incentives and rewards motivating employees are essential to successful employer branding. It is possible to boost employee engagement and productivity by rewarding them for their hard work and encouraging them to feel satisfied with their work. Some effective incentive and reward programs include bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, and recognition programs.

2.     Lead by example

By setting a good example, you can inspire your employees. Successful employer branding can be demonstrated by highlighting positive company culture, demonstrating a commitment to employee development, and demonstrating social responsibility.

It will help to increase the employees’ productivity. Satisfied employees miss less work, are more positive, contribute more to discussions, volunteer for more projects, or help a colleague.

3.     Invest in training

Leaving your job is often attributed to boredom and a need for a change of pace. It should be relatively easy to resolve this issue. Training programs can help employees develop their skills and knowledge, leading to higher job satisfaction and improved performance.

Companies can provide management and leadership training, offer special certifications, and provide plenty of opportunities for career advancement to capture job candidate interest and commitment from their employees.

4.     Recognize employee results

Recognizing employee results and sharing them with the broader community can help to build a positive employer brand and improve employee morale. For example, companies can highlight individual and team accomplishments, share positive customer feedback, and celebrate significant milestones to build a positive company culture.

5.     Prioritize onboarding

For a new hire to become a productive member of your team, the first 90 days are critical. Companies can make a profound and lasting first impression by offering a smooth onboarding process.

It is essential because if newcomers have a bad experience, they will most likely seek a different job opportunity, and they could leave a bad review that is unsuitable for your company to attract talents and keep them.

Onboarding plays a significant role in establishing a positive company brand image. The key to ensuring employee engagement is to get them excited about their roles and teams from the very beginning.

 If you empower your new employees with the tools and instructions they need to succeed, their transition will be smooth, turnover will be lower, and they will be more productive.

Bringing HR & Marketing Team Together

While HR teams focus on cultivating a positive company culture and values, marketing teams promote and showcase these values to the broader community. When they work together, they can craft engaging stories and campaigns that resonate with potential candidates and enhance the company’s employer brand.

Employee advocacy is a powerful tool in employer branding strategy, as it was mentioned before. Employers can create a trustworthy and authentic image of their brand by encouraging employees to share positive content about their workplace on social media.

Similar to customer reviews, potential candidates are more likely to trust the opinions of actual employees. Almost 90% of companies with successful employer branding believe in the power of employee advocacy and recognize that what employees say matters to the perception of their brand.

Employers can leverage employee sentiments in different ways, such as sharing reviews and testimonials on hiring pages or creating short interview videos for social media.

Share Quality & Interesting Content

To maintain a strong employer brand, companies should share quality and exciting content that reflects the company’s culture and values.

While using high-quality videos, photos, and slideshows effectively showcasing your company and its unique attributes. These can be used to tell your company’s story, celebrate diversity among your employees, and showcase your beautiful workspaces.

One effective way to introduce your company is by creating a welcome video from your CEO or hiring manager. At the same time, staff interviews can provide valuable insight into what working for your organization is like.

It’s essential to plan and budget for these marketing costs at the start of each quarter to ensure that you have the resources necessary to create compelling content that resonates with potential candidates.

Choose the Right Channels

It’s essential to choose the correct channels for promoting employer branding. Different channels may be more effective for different target audiences, so it’s necessary to research and understand where potential candidates and employees are most active.

For example, social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok may be more effective if the company is looking to attract young professionals. On the other hand, LinkedIn may be the best channel for the company to attract more experienced professionals.

Companies can ensure that their employer branding efforts reach the right audience and achieve the desired results by choosing the proper channels.

If you need assistance finding the right channels for your company or want your company to be put on the first page of Google, contact us today.

Marketing Strategies

SaaS Marketing Strategies: The Complete Guide for 2023 

Optimizing your SaaS marketing strategy is crucial as the market continues to grow. Gartner estimates that the SaaS market is now worth $195 billion. That’s a drastic jump from being valued at $31.4 billion more than seven years ago.

So if you’re a player in the SaaS market, the obvious priority is figuring out how you will stand out. First, you must remember that thousands of SaaS companies are out there. In the United States alone, there are already 17,000 SaaS providers.

A unique, data-driven SaaS marketing strategy is the key to a SaaS provider’s success. Along with the technical components of building the software, you also need to get creative in driving a strong influence on your target market.

How can you acquire and retain customers? Does your software come with a potential for future growth and improvements? You must answer these two questions when developing a dynamic SaaS marketing strategy.

What is SaaS Marketing Strategy? 

Pouring hundreds of work hours into designing your software doesn’t automatically guarantee success. Yes, your product may offer unique features your competitors don’t have. First, however, it would be best to answer this question: how will your target consumers notice your software?

This is where an effective SaaS marketing strategy enters the picture. Crafting a marketing strategy for SaaS products is your means to enter your software into a target market. You promote your product, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales or subscriptions.

Developing a SaaS marketing strategy that will be a big hit immediately is challenging. To put together an engaging strategy, consistency is vital.

Why is SaaS Marketing Strategy Important? 

The SaaS market is still growing by the day, which can also result in stiffer competition. Thousands of SaaS companies are already marketing their products, and you should expect that the number of providers will double or even triple in the next several years. 

Yet, you should know that the demand for SaaS products is very high, so there’s a lot of room for your product to grow. Therefore, as soon as you identify the niche for your software, you should put a lot of creative effort into developing your SaaS marketing strategy. 

Your product has potential — let your SaaS marketing strategy unlock a myriad of possibilities.   

SaaS Marketing Strategies: Things to Keep in Mind 

As previously mentioned, creating a home-run SaaS product marketing strategy is challenging and rare in most cases. However, maintaining an effortful approach to staying in touch with your target audience is one feature of an effective marketing campaign.

Consistency is key, but it’s also vital to plan your course. After all, your efforts will only go to waste if you’re consistently going at it the wrong way.

Don’t worry too much, though, as you can follow a framework to develop an effective marketing strategy for SaaS. This framework will simplify things, so continue reading below for more information.

1. Identifying Your Target Audience 

Developing an ideal customer profile is very underrated in value, especially with how aligned it is with a brand’s identity and voice. Unfortunately, most sellers overlook this, so don’t make that same mistake.

How will a buyer persona or ideal customer profile help you craft a dynamic SaaS marketing strategy? A buyer persona presents you with valuable sets of information about your target customers, including the following:

  • pain points 
  • buying motivation 
  • desired solutions 
  • demographic challenges 

Why and how will a potential customer avail of your software? Do your target customers tend to see advertisements more through digital media rather than word of mouth? You should be able to adapt your marketing strategies to the current trends, and you can achieve that by developing a buyer persona. 

Now that you have various ideal customer profiles in mind, the next step is to conduct market research. Through market research, you can answer these important questions: 

  • Does your product address one of the underserved needs in your target market? 
  • What insights do people have about your product features? 
  • Can your product adapt to the current trends in the market? 

Remember that market research is an ongoing process, so don’t stop gathering information and continue testing out your advertising strategies. 

2. Mapping Out SaaS Sales Funnel 

As you already know, the success of SaaS heavily relies on customer conversion and retention. Therefore, getting customers to subscribe long-term is the heart of your SaaS marketing strategy. 

After conducting market research and developing buyer personas for your target customer base, you can map out your SaaS sales funnel. From a broader perspective, the sales funnel is your customer’s journey from noticing your product for the first time to renewing their subscription or membership.

Terms may vary, but an effective SaaS sales funnel should include these stages (in order): 

  1. Brand discovery – This is your customers’ first impression of your product. How are you promoting your software on sales calls or social media ads? 
  1. Gaining interest – It’s your potential customer’s first engagement with your product. Did they sign up for your newsletter or did they book a free consultation with one of your sales agents? 
  1. Individualized insights – This is when a customer tests your software for the first time. Are you offering a free trial or demo of your product? 
  1. First purchase – Well, you’ve officially got something tangible for your efforts. A prospective client finally earned the “official customer” tag for purchasing your services.  
  1. Customer retention – This stage lets you know how effective your software was to your client or customer. Did they renew their monthly subscription or annual membership? 

In a nutshell, your SaaS sales funnel gives you an idea of how you convert leads to sales. 

3. Creating a Value Proposition 

Grammarly’s recurring headline of “Great Writing, Simplified” is as simple and effective as you want a first impression to be. In just three words, Grammarly lets people know about the customers they’re targeting, the customer problems they can solve, and the actual solution that they’re offering. 

This slogan-like headline from Grammarly is the starting point of what you call a SaaS value proposition. Creating a value proposition for your software should involve the following: 

  • A simple yet engaging headline 
  • Two to three sentences that support the headline 
  • Multiple bullet points to provide specific details about your brand 
  • Your brand’s image or logo 

How do you then create a unique value proposition? The important thing to remember is that everything should be geared toward the customers’ needs. The first impression is key here, so your words should immediately resonate with your target customer base. 

With your customers’ needs in mind, the next thing to include is your unique advantages over the competition. Even if it’s just one specific detail, use it to your advantage. To gain their attention, customers just need to see one feature that they haven’t seen before. 

Finally, everything should be simple and clear. You can always get creative and witty but be mindful of using only simple wordings to make your SaaS value proposition more relatable. 

4. Understanding the Competition 

As is the case in every industry or business, the SaaS market is brimming with competition. If approached in the right way, competition becomes a healthy factor among competitors. SaaS providers begin to up their game, and this drives a mutual benefit between service sellers and buyers. 

You have to remember that there is a high demand for SaaS, especially with the digitalization of almost every platform. According to Statista, SaaS providers based in the United States already have more than 59 billion customers as of 2022. SaaS providers headquartered in the United Kingdom trail at second place with 3 billion customers worldwide. 

Still, you can’t get too complacent in the SaaS market. One distinct product feature can separate an upward-trending company from a spiraling one. For your company to avoid this, it’s recommended that you understand your competition. 

Your direct and indirect competitors don’t just pose a threat to your growth; they can unwittingly provide you with helpful information and data. By researching how your competitors are doing business, you will also discover your company’s weaknesses and build up on the things you’re already doing right. 

Understanding your competitors is a vital part of your SaaS marketing strategy, so make sure that this is part of your game plan.   

5. Customer Acquisition Strategies 

While it is true that there is a high demand in the SaaS market, it doesn’t mean that getting customers will be easy. It’s fairly easier to get your product noticed in the market, but can you secure customers on a long-term basis? 

That’s the thing with SaaS — your relationship with a client or customer could dictate how sustainable your success is. This is not like in a jewelry store where you’re happy to sell one item to a customer and count that as a win. In SaaS, you have to convince people to buy your product in the long run.

One of the tips for getting long-term clients in SaaS is knowing where the right channels are. Depending on where your niche lies, here are the best customer acquisition channels in the SaaS industry: 

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  • Email marketing 
  • Content marketing in social media 
  • Cold calls 
  • Paid advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Advertising, Guest Posts, Affiliate Marketing) 

All these acquisition channels are effective in their own way, but you have to know which one works best for your product. Some tips include knowing where your competitors are getting customers, pre-testing your marketing strategy, and analyzing the platforms where your customers are more active. 

6. Customer Retention Strategies  

As you have read more than one time in this article, getting long-term clients or customers is the key to success in the SaaS marketplace. It’s one thing to get a potential customer piqued with interest; it’s another to convince them to renew their subscriptions. 

The benchmark for customer retention rate in SaaS is around 90%. You may be intimidated by how high this standard customer retention rate is, but bear in mind that SaaS providers get their revenue via long-term subscriptions, not one-off memberships or free trials. 

So how do you optimize your SaaS marketing strategy with the aim of acquiring “repeat customers”? Here are some tips to get started: 

  1. Design a user-friendly interface with clear-cut instructions 
  1. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys from time to time 
  1. Regularly interact with your customers 
  1. Work on upgrades and additional features 
  1. Prioritize customer support and help center 

Another customer retention strategy that you can utilize is implementing a customer loyalty program. It’s always an attractive way to engage both current and potential customers while encouraging them to get into the “spend more to earn more” scheme. Your customer loyalty program could include perks like getting cash back, unlocking higher-tier memberships, earning redeemable points, or getting discounts via referrals. 

7. Pricing Strategy 

You can your SaaS product as your passion or pet project, but let’s be perfectly honest: money is the driving force for SaaS operations. Your revenue is not just about the cold pile of cash you’re getting your hands on; the revenue you’re generating also tells you how your product is meeting the needs of your customers. 

One of the factors affecting revenue generation in SaaS is pricing strategy. Getting your pricing strategy right could unlock another avenue for your product’s sustainable growth. Your pricing strategies should take into account your expenses, your competitors’ current pricing, and the value that your customers get from your product. 

As for SaaS pricing models, here are a couple of examples that you can use: 

  • Fixed-rate: Often used for single-product subscriptions, fixed-rate pricing allows customers to pay a flat rate, whether they choose a monthly or annual subscription. The downside of this pricing model is there’s no room for price adjustments if customers want to include (or exclude) a certain feature. 
  • Usage-based: The usage-based pricing model allows customers to pay only for what they want to consume. This is more flexible pricing, although your company’s revenue might dip or increase depending on the current trends in the market. 

Optimizing your pricing strategy could pose a short-term risk, but it’s important to think about the bigger picture in this facet of your SaaS market strategy. 

8. Definition of Success 

SaaS is a subscription-model business, so if you want to have a growing revenue, you need to encourage clients or customers to renew their accounts. To be able to do that, you need to invest a chunk of your resources in your customer success strategies. 

According to the 2022 Customer Success Index by Gainsight, they found that SaaS providers spend at least 6% of their revenue on customer success. This number is just on the average line, so there’s a chance that the more successful SaaS companies invest more in customer success. 

Having said that, customer success in SaaS is more than just responding to your clients’ queries. You need to establish a good working relationship with your customers, and this process involves providing them with the following: 

  • Intentional onboarding 
  • Training and seminars 
  • Workflow outlining 
  • Business reviews 
  • Feedback and evaluation 

In a nutshell, you need to ensure that your customers are getting the most out of your product. When they discover all the perks that come with your software, they won’t just renew their subscriptions, but they could refer you to potential customers. 

Measuring your success as a SaaS provider should be dependent on your long-term relationships with customers.  

SaaS Marketing Channels 

For your SaaS digital marketing strategy to work, you need to find the right channels to put your ads and content on.  A brilliant marketing strategy won’t matter if you’re not able to reach your target customer base. 

It goes without saying that your SaaS company must invest resources in your marketing strategies. So to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your budget, you need to find the most suitable market channels for your brand. 

From a broader perspective, there are three main categories of marketing channels. These are the following: 

  • Paid Channels – This is a general type of marketing channel that requires payment for advertising your brand. Examples of paid channels include web display ads, paid campaigns on social media, guest posts, and email newsletters. 
  • Owned Channels – Basically, owned marketing channels refer to the media channels that your company owns. These may be your company’s website or social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. 
  • Earned Channels – These are channels that you don’t pay for. You get access to earned channels organically, via word-of-mouth recommendations, referrals, and comments. 

For you to know about the more specific marketing channels that your SaaS brand can use, continue reading below. 

Saas SEO Strategy 

As you might have figured out by now, most of your SaaS marketing strategies will use the Internet as means of communication. Digital media is the way of the world now, so you need to know how you can increase your brand awareness on the Internet. 

If done properly, a great way to promote your SaaS brand is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SaaS SEO refers to the process of directing organic traffic to your brand, which increases reach, engagement, and awareness among your target customer base. A good SaaS SEO strategy typically involves relevant keywords and links from high-ranking, authoritative websites.  

SEO is important because 68% of online experiences start with people typing in keywords on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yandex, and Naver among many others. So how will you incorporate SEO into your SaaS marketing strategy? Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • Research relevant, high-ranking keywords 
  • Analyze content and keywords coming from your direct and indirect competitors 
  • Invest in technical and on-page SEO 
  • Create engaging content 

Content is still king in SEO, and that is the same case for your SaaS brand. To have the ability to craft engaging and relatable content, you must also identify the current challenges and trends in your target market. 

SaaS PPC Campaigns 

Along with the returns that you can get from investing in organic SEO, your SaaS brand can also benefit from a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. If you want to get relatively quicker information on your ROI (return on investment), a PPC campaign could be your go-to marketing strategy. 

A PPC campaign refers to the process of paying for paid advertisements on search engines and social media platforms. It’s a great way to see if a certain marketing channel fits your brand’s target customer base, as PPC campaigns will provide you with data on your ROI quicker than an SEO strategy. 

PPC campaigns may require you to invest a lot of money, so you need to be intelligent as to where you put your resources into. An effective PPC campaign should see you doing the following: 

  • Personalize your ads based on the marketing channel and your target customer base 
  • Leverage your ads in relation to market movement and seasonal trends 
  • Opt for retargeting to re-engage with target customers 
  • Maximize opportunities on PPC landing pages 
  • Consider other marketing channels outside of Google Ads 

While it’s true that data is quicker to get in a SaaS PPC campaign, you still have to exercise patience in testing different strategies and channels. 

SaaS Email Marketing Strategies 

Email marketing is another channel that SaaS companies are putting resources into. Email marketing is different from SEO and PPC strategies because you can have one-on-one interaction with each of your potential clients. 

Getting your email marketing right is such a crucial element in SaaS customer success. As previously mentioned in this article, success in SaaS relies on bringing in long-term customers. Through email marketing, you can personally get in touch with customers and address their specific needs. 

Moreover, email marketing involves one of the most important aspects of SaaS: encouraging your customers to renew their accounts. A typical email marketing strategy involves the following points: 

  • Map out your customer journey 
  • Nurture relationships, including Freemium subscriptions 
  • Offer training and workflows to encourage Freemium users to upgrade their subscriptions 
  • Provide regular reports and data charts for your users 

Crafting engaging emails is a great way to attract new customers, but the main priority in SaaS email marketing is nurturing relationships. You should take advantage of the personal touch that comes with email marketing and be consistent with your efforts. 

SaaS Video Marketing Strategies 

You’ve read in this article that content is king when it comes to marketing. Well-written content can engage your customer base and combining that with an effective video marketing strategy could pay dividends for your SaaS brand. 

According to Business Insider, the number of digital video viewers in the United States will eclipse 244.4 million by 2020. Videos are easier to consume, as there are more avenues to get creative and interactive with your target audience. In fact, more and more users say that short-form videos are the most engaging content on social media channels.  

So, it’s not surprising at all that most SaaS companies leverage their video marketing abilities to gain more leads and conversions. Once you successfully discover a suitable marketing channel to broadcast your video content, you can get creative as much as you want. There are tons of SaaS videos that you can create, including: 

  • Product demo videos 
  • Instructional videos 
  • Promo videos 
  • Customer testimonial videos 
  • Company background videos 
  • Free webinars 
  • Interviews with industry experts 

A visual explanation of how you can help your customers should gain more attention to your SaaS brand. You can do out-of-the-box content with your videos, but make sure that everything is clear-cut and easy to understand.  

SaaS Marketing Strategy Takeaways 

From the first impression down to customer retention, a B2B SaaS marketing strategy involves a lot of brainstorming and content planning sessions. There are vital things to keep in mind, including determining a suitable customer base, mapping out your customer journey, finding the right marketing channels, analyzing your competitors, and optimizing your pricing plans. 

The process may seem complex at first glance, but if you stay true to your brand’s value proposition, the ideas and strategies will flow right through. There are many components to remember, but the most important factor in all these is how your SaaS can cover the needs of your customers. 

Click here to get a free SEO audit for your SaaS business.

SEO Tips

How To Rank On The First Page of Google

It is a well-known fact that if it exists it’s on the first page of your Google search. Actually, 75% of the users don’t go past the first page of Google to find the answers they were looking for.

So, how can you rank in the first page of Google today? Well, to appear on the first page of Google for competitive keywords related to your business niche is a complex and ongoing process. In fact, you will need to invest time and effort.

Besides having patience, the most important attitude is to be consistent with your SEO efforts. Eventually you will see the results.

Throughout the years, Fortis Media has improved its processes, testing different tools and approaches until finding the right one for each specific case. Thus, here are 10 tips that might be useful if you want to know how to rank in the first page of Google.

1) Perfect your user experience

Think about it. If you own a restaurant or a cafe and you want your clients to come back and spread the word about your business, you need to provide a good customer experience, right? From the moment they walk through the door to the moment they leave, every detail matters.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you loved the food, but the table service was disappointing? Or perhaps it took so much time for you to get your meal that when it arrives you are more angry than hungry.

Well, a website is similar. It might have good content, but maybe the navigation is so difficult, and the loading time is so high that eventually you decide to look in another place. And the truth is that the world wide web is an endless chain of restaurants: if your client is not satisfied with what they find on your page, they will go elsewhere immediately to satisfy their hunger.

Latest stats show that a 2-second delay in the load time of a website results in abandonment rates of up to 87%.

To make sure your users have a 5-star experience when visiting your website make sure your images have defined dimensions and are in the right format. Google developers recommend WebP.

Also, you can identify the problems of your website on Google’s PageSpeed Insights. You should perform a Core Web Vitals evaluation too.

Besides the technical details, your website should be optimized for mobile devices and your content should have satisfying readability.

2) Create valuable content

Customer service is important in a restaurant, but the quality of your meal is what will make you come back, right? In a website, your meal is content. The better and more unique your content is, the more likely you are to have returning visitors.

Plus, if you create enjoyable content and get returning visitors, Google will take notice, and your website will climb up the rankings.

Nowadays, it is easier than ever to create content. With the rise of AI tools, like Chat GPT, anyone can populate their website with content without too much effort. So, how to make your content stand out among the competition?

Storytelling is your answer. One thing that AI is (for now) unable to mimic is empathy. Nobody knows your target audience better than you. Tell a story to your target audience that they find relatable. The key for optimized marketing storytelling is defining the exposition, conflict and solution.

First you will want to expose a problem that your target audience often faces. Identifying it might involve keyword research to know what the most searched questions from your intended public are.

Secondly, you want to develop the problem into a conflict, illustrating it with quotes, examples, statistics.

And finally, you want to end up in a solution, demonstrating how your brand and/or products can assist in the resolution of the conflict.

Ideally your content should end in a call to action, inviting your audience to buy a specific product, download an app or make a change in their lifestyle.

3) Setup your Google My Business profile

To certify yourself that your content is optimized for the Google algorithm you must set up a Google My Business profile. Why is that?

Google My Business will give details of your business to your customers. It allows you to provide details and photos of your company, which includes your location, services and products.

After doing it, check regularly if you need to update it. You don’t want your business to look outdated and give the wrong impression to your current or potential new clients.

Be aware that this feature is only useful for businesses that have a physical location. If your business is online only you should stick with Google Ads and Google Analytics.

Setup your Google My Business profile

4) Dominate long-tail keywords

SEO involves a lot of keyword research and optimization, to find the best low hanging fruits: these are the easiest opportunities for your business to get in the front page of Google searches.

Imagine there are two relevant keywords for your niche, both with 4K of users per month. However, in one of them you will have to compete with high authority websites, while the other has a lower keyword difficulty. It is easy to know which one is the quickest road you should take, right?

Very often the low hanging fruits are long-tail keywords. There are three types of keywords: the head keywords, the middle ones and long-tails. For example, you are trying to promote your sports shoes business. A ‘head’ keyword would be “sneakers”, which is the most obvious one, but as you would expect there is already a lot of competition there.

So, let’s try something more specific? Something like “white NIKE sneakers”. This is a middle keyword, it is more specific, but it is still likely that you will find plenty of competition, especially if you are just launching your online business.

You need to dig deeper into keywords that are even more specific. For example: “best white nike sneakers for volleyball players”. This long-tailed keyword targets a specific audience (volleyball players) and includes the product you are trying to promote.

Even though it obviously gets less searches per month than head or middle keywords, long-tailed keywords are easier to rank for. If you add a few of these together your organic traffic will rise, slowly but steadily.

5) Create next-level content

We already mentioned the importance of creating quality valuable content, to stand out among the competition. Still, if you want to take it to the next level you must make your content as versatile as possible.

What does it mean to create next level content? It means you should adapt your content to different platforms, making it available in social media, in video format, infographics, etc. You can repurpose the articles that are more popular on your website, turning them into a top 10 video and publish it on your YouTube channel. Or instead convert it into an Instagram story or a TikTok.

Perhaps, your content is a thorough case study or business analysis that highlights the success of your company’s processes or the latest industry trends? Turn your data into an infographic and publish it in Linkedin.

The more you repurpose your content for different platforms the more likely you are to create a faithful target audience and increase your brand awareness.

6) Competitor analysis

One of the most crucial parts of any SEO strategy is competitor analysis. Analyzing the competition will help you to understand what the best practices in your industry are and also spot your competitor’s weaknesses, where you can outperform them.

To do a proper competitor analysis start by making a list of your main competitors. You can either use keyword research tools, such as SEMRush or AhRefs, or you can simply do research for the most important keywords in your niche and take note of who is currently on the first page of Google.

After listing your main competitors and doing some analysis of them, you should check what their targeted customers are and how they address them.

Then try to see what media they are using to promote their brand and services. Are they active in social media? Do they have paid traffic? Do they produce only written content, or do they also have videos, infographics and other creative forms of content?

Following this you should make a comparison between their strengths and flaws and your own. Try to be as impartial as possible: it’s important you are able to see what your limitations are and how you can improve.

Finally, to conclude the competitor analysis, research into the market. How is the industry you are trying to rank currently performing? Are the projections for the future optimistic?

Competitor analysis

7) Earn & Build high quality backlinks

The main path for increasing your website’s organic traffic is backlinks. And for that there is no other way around: you will need the assistance of an experienced SEO marketing agency.

Why is that? Why can’t you simply get backlinks on your own? Backlinks are guest posts in high-authority websites that are relevant to your website’s niche, which will include a link to your website, inserted in a contextual manner. There are a lot of websites that accept guest posts, even from newly created websites, but they often ask you for a publication fee.

So, in order to decrease the cost and the time spent searching for websites that have high metrics and that are appropriate for your target audience, your best solution is to request the services of an experienced SEO agency.

They will have already a list of links that they can provide, and they can also act as intermediaries between you (the target URL) and the webmaster (the guest website owner).

Backlinks are the second most important Google ranking factor, just behind content. These links will point to your website, increasing your authority and gradually raising your position in Google pages for relevant queries.

8) Use Search Analytics To Stay On Top

You might be asking what search analytics is and why do you need it? We already mentioned before that one of the most useful tools for your website is Google Analytics.

Nevertheless, sometimes Google Analytics isn’t enough. Search analytics examine if you are capitalizing on your existing traffic. So, using different search analytics tools, with different metrics and analysis factors, you can create a whole view of your buying persona: your current customers/visitors and your potential future customers/visitors.

Search analytics gives you a window into the products your target audience searches for, what are the search terms they use, which of these search terms convert in sales and what are the products they can’t find through search.

It allows you to follow the interactions of your users according to your search suggestions and see the behavior of your site search, like oscillations in revenue.

9) Track your website’s performance metrics

So, you have a website fully SEO optimized, you created numerous pieces of content, you have made your competitor analysis. Now it’s time to track the progress.

Like we said in the beginning SEO is an ongoing process, which means that you need to track your performance in order to keep improving. Checking constantly for important metrics that define your website’s success will be fundamental to not only find weaknesses, but also to bolster your strongest assets.

Imagine you notice one of your pieces of content is having higher traffic than all the remaining ones. Perhaps you can update it with new information, optimize it with additional keywords, add internal links, promote it in your social media pages or repurpose it in video format.

Though, organic traffic is only one of many metrics you should track. Page speed, for example, is one of the patterns you must track, since as we revealed before, most people leave the page if it takes more than 2 seconds to load a website. Bounce rate is another important metric, as it shows the number of non-returning visitors: so you want to have the lowest bounce rate possible.

There are hundreds of important metrics and it is arguable which ones are more important. They depend on your niche and demographic target audience. You can check our case study about SEO ranking factors here.

10) Do everything 4 times more (more & longer blog articles, more backlinks, more research)

After following all these 9 steps you have to do it again. And again. And again. SEO is a never-ending process, you should not stop even if you achieve the first page of Google, otherwise your competitors will see the opportunity. Once you take the foot of the gas, someone else will steal your spotlight.

Continuous production of original quality content and constant updating your old articles that perform well is imperative. Investing in finding quality backlinks in authority websites that quote your website is indispensable.

Finally, you should keep track of your metrics, fixing your weak spots and investing in new opportunities to grow and expand your online footprint.

If you need assistance in creating a valuable SEO strategy that can put you on the first page of Google book a free audit with Fortis Media today.

Case Studies

Which SEO Factors Have the Highest Impact on Ranking?

Many brands and digital marketers seek to know which factors have the highest impact on search engine rankings. In fact, it’s very difficult to come up with a specific list of key factors, as they keep varying and are influenced by updates from Google and social media networks.

Besides, it always depends on which industry you are aiming to rank for. If you are seeking for higher rankings in casino SEO the factors that are going to be of relevance to your strategy might be different if you have a clothing brand website.

With Fortis Media’s expertise and the tools we have within our reach we conducted an in-depth analysis to come up with the best ranking factors and also show some data that can help you take decisions when choosing in which direction to take your SEO strategy.

In January 2021 we conducted an analysis for a leading US horse racing company to identify, which factors have the highest impact on Google rankings. Therefore, the data presented in this article is immensely more relevant if you represent a horse racing brand or you are interested in learning the ranking aspects that define this industry.

We used a novel approach using Machine Learning and decided to share some of our findings in this report. As part of the research, we also did Exploratory Data Analysis, T-test, Cohen’s D, and Regression Analysis (Linear and Logistic).

This was done by collecting top 100 ranking positions for 2907 keywords, which resulted in 274 952 data points. The data was further enriched by third-party suppliers such as Majestic and Semrush for domain-level metrics. We started with 95 variables: 79 from data suppliers and 16 new variables as part of this analysis.

The following is some important advice to digital marketing specialists and also to companies curious about how SEO works, which comes from the extensive research and analysis performed.

Note: Analyzing one company in a particular industry and time frame shows results most relevant to those limitations. This means that if we change the company and the industry, the results may vary.

1. Article Titles Should Be Similar To Search Queries You’re Trying To Rank For

Assuming causality Search Query and Title Similarity is an important ranking factor, having more targeted articles with Titles that are close to the target queries could improve ranking, rather than having broad titles and articles.

All analysis methods agree that Search Query and Title Similarity Index are most closely associated with the ranking position. Search Query and Title Similarity Index as a variable penalizes Titles that are long but contain all the Search Query terms, meaning that Titles that are succinct and on the topic tend to be associated with higher ranking values.

This does not consider semantic mapping that might be happening on Google’s side where different words are treated as synonyms.

2. Search Query and Description Relevance Rank Are Not So Important

Search Query and Description Relevance Rank were the least impactful ranking factors (while statistically significant in the regression analysis).

It could be that Google in some cases chooses a description based on the user query, which might distort the results, it’s also possible that the method to catch relevance used in this analysis is deficient.

3. Building a strong portfolio of external backlinks is essential

Both Regression analyses and ML approaches showed External Backlinks to be an important ranking factor.

Before modeling in regression analyses, External Backlinks had to be log-transformed for any meaningful association could be discerned, meaning that for External Backlinks – one unit of increase in ranking is a factor of 10 increase External Backlinks.

For example, assuming for one increase in rank from the current rank it requires 100 extra External Backlinks, the subsequent increase from the new level – it would require 1000 extra External Backlinks.

There is a decrease in the effectiveness of each new External Backlink creates as the total portfolio of External Backlinks increases.

Having the largest External Backlinks portfolio does not guarantee top ranking as shown in the Bivariate Analysis section, one way to look at it could be that having a good External Backlinks portfolio is a necessary but not sufficient condition for high ranking.

4. Social media domains tend to cluster around the 10th position

This analysis found that the largest mean External Backlinks values are at position ~10. After a deeper investigation, it was identified that this pattern is mostly driven by social media websites.

They tend to cluster around the 10th position, especially, which on its’ own takes ~10% of all results for position 10.

5. Pay extra attention to the Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio

Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio showed up as an important ranking factor in the ML model section. The ideal value should be between 0.5 and 1.5.

Investigating the variable’s relationship with ranking in isolation, the mean value tends to shoot up for top ranking positions, while staying rather steady for the rest of the positions.

The ML modeling section displayed a penalty for domains with low Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio, while hovering around zero above a certain threshold.

As with other variables, there could be some other confounding factors – one way to interpret the results is that domains with a higher Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio tend to have a better External Backlink portfolio.

Ranking Overview

This section reviews the patterns between ranking and a selected set of potential explanatory variables, investigating the type of relationship (linear or non-linear) and outliers.

Selected on-site variables, like Average Search Query and Title Similarity Index, tend to display a more linear pattern than off-site variables in relation to ranking.

Off-site variables such as External Backlinks, Citation Flow, and Referring Domains display a non-linear relationship, where the mean value for a given rank increases until ~10th position after which the trend reverses.

Part of this pattern for off-site variables is driven by social media websites. Removing social media websites changes the pattern.

Two hypotheses could be considered to explain the pattern for social media websites peaking at the ~10th position.

1. Users are downvoting social media websites

By clicking on them less often and as such Google simply down-ranking them as a result.

2. Social media websites have less relevant content.

Overall the relationships between ranking and other variables are weak due to the wide variance of each SEO metric for any given rank.

So, in conclusion, off-site metrics tend to display a piecewise pattern with a transition point at position 10, as can be seen below.

Disclaimer: The data displayed in this section is from January 16th 2021, and does not represent the current context but is included to show the overall context of the analyzed data.

Average External Backlinks Value Per Rank

Average External Backlinks Value Without Social Media
The red line marks the 10th position ranking on Google.

The average number of external backlinks tends to grow until the 10th SERP, then we see the drop.

However, removing social media domains changes the distribution for external backlinks with higher ranking positions tend to have more backlinks.

Social Media Listings are Potentially Skewing Results

Social media websites comprise only 0.003% of all unique domains but represent ~3 percent of all listings and ~ 70 percent of off-site metric value mass.

This means that social media listings exhibit a pattern of possibly skewing results. According to Investopedia “skewing means a distortion or asymmetry that deviates from the symmetrical bell curve, or normal distribution, in a set of data’.

Social Media Websites Proportion

Social Media Pages As A Proportion Of All Rankings

Machine Learning Analysis

Examining SHAP patterns showed that Search Query and Title Similarity Index seem to display a linear pattern in relation to ranking. While having higher Index values is associated with a higher likelihood to be ranked on the 1st page or rank higher on the first page. If you are not familiar with the concept of SHAP in Machine Learning, learn more in this article from Towards Data Science.

Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio is another important ranking factor according to the model, tends to show a penalty for low ratio values and being neutral past a certain threshold, this could be because domains with low Ratio values, tend to have a poor quality external backlink portfolios.

Highest External Backlinks (or Citation Flow) values are not necessarily associated with top ranking positions, but having lower values tends to be associated with lower rankings.

Ranked variables when all ranking factors are included:

Classification ML Model
The graph shows a list of ranked variables when all numeric variables are included.

After Organic Traffic, Search Query, and Title Similarity Index is the second most important variable for model performance, Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio is in the top 5, but neither Citation Flow, Trust Flow nor External Backlinks is in the top 20.

This is partly because the model uses other variables, such as Referring IPs or Referring Domains type HTTPS, which are highly correlated with the before mentioned ones, and being highly correlated among themselves would split the difference further diluting their contribution.

Importance of Ranking Factors According to ML

The graphs show variables in descending order as considered important in predicting rank. After extensive internal discussions, we decided to focus only on those factors we have the strongest influence.

Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio came out as the strongest predictor. However, the graph doesn’t show whether there is a linear relationship between the rank and variable value. Later in this article, we will present a deeper look into potential emerging patterns.

Classification ML Model 2
Data relevant to (|SHAP value|)

Low Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio is associated with lower rankings

Trust Flow To Citation Flow Ratio
Trust Flow To Citation Flow Ratio

By visually inspecting the ML models it can be seen that a lower TF/CF ratio is associated with lower rank predictions. Both Machine Learning models learned that lower Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratios is associated with lower rankings.

For the classification model, the threshold seems to be at ~0.5, where the majority of the values are below the 0 value (less likely to be on the first page) and stabilizing beyond that point – having both positive and negative values. Take note of the color gradient – pages with lower Citation Flow Values and Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio seem to be especially penalized.

Similar pattern holds for the Learn-to-Rank model, except for the ratio value where most of the SHAP values lie below the 0 lines being slightly below 1.

Learn To Rank ML Model

Higher Search Query and Title Similarity Index Values Are Associated With Higher Ranks

Search Query and Title Similarity Index display a rather straightforward linear relationship – higher values are associated with a higher likelihood of being on the 1st page. This is noteworthy as the ML model can learn any pattern to fit the data, yet the pattern is linear.

This pattern holds for both the classification and Learn-to-Rank models, meaning that both models find higher Search Query and Title Similarity Index values to be associated with higher ranks.

It corroborates the findings from the Linear Modeling and the Variable Relationships sections where it was shown to have the strongest association with our target variable – Ranking.

Search Query And Title Similarity Index

Learn To Rank Search Query

Citation Flow Displays A Non-Linear Pattern

The Classification ML model consistently displays a pattern where the highest contribution towards being classified on the 1st Page is in the range between 40-50. It holds, even if we switch out Citation Flow for External Backlinks, Trust Flow, Referring Domains, and sample different queries for model building. The pattern persists when we build an ML model with only a single input variable – Citation Flow.

Note that the data points with high SHAP Values (contribution towards being classified as being on the 1st page) tend to also have high Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratios. This is consistent with the findings investigating two-way variable relationships, which showed that the 1st page does not have on average the highest External Backlinks values – the 2nd page does.

SHAP Value For Citation Flow

SHAP Learn To Rank

Description Relevance Rank Is The Least Predictive

In comparison to other variables in the model, Description Relevance Rank seems to be the most weakly associated with the target variable and as such not very predictive. The variable is the rank ordering of the Search Result Description Text and the Search Query bm25 Score (an information retrieval metric) ranked for every query – the best matching description starting at 1 and increasing as the metric value decreases.

In the linear modeling section, the variable was statistically significant but with the smallest effect from selected variables, the same holds when using ML models. The variable displays a linear trend when classifying for the 1st-page ranking or ranking the full list (100 rankings per query), but no discernable pattern is visible when ranking the results of the first page.

SHAP Description To Query Learn To Rank SHAP Description To Query

Client Ranking Profile for Classification (Ranking on the 1st Page)

The red dots show where on the contribution scale (SHAP) our client‘s results lie. Due to them being one of the most ranking domains and have the highest mean and median rankings in the data set, it’s reasonable to assume that the results are biased towards their domain, assuming causality.

Citation Flow SHAP SHAP Search Query SHAP Description To Query CLIENT SHAP Trust Flow To Citation Flow Ratio

From off-site metrics in the model, the client seems to have rather good values, maybe having some improvement in the Trust Flow to Citation Flow Ratio. On-site metrics are query by query basis, but it seems, that there would be some gains to be had in those cases where the Search Query and Title Similarity Index value is low.

Further Analysis

The analysis as is found some significant factors associated with Ranking, but other potential factors could be relevant.

Online literature, like Cognitive SEO, as well as SME input, suggests that Recency (time since the article was published) is a potentially important variable, this analysis tried including the variable, but due to formatting inconsistency from the data supplier it was not feasible to do, with better quality data, it could be worthwhile including this variable in future research.

Another aspect worthwhile investigating is page-level content, such as text length, text relevance to query (BM25, TF-IDF), and others. An effort was put in to gather the HTML documents for all 274 952 ranking results (91 522 unique URLs), but too much data was missing, with non-random gaps in data (lower ranked results tended to have more data missing), which could have led to bias in the analysis.

This was partly because the scraping was done a few months after initial data gathering and because the ranking scraping and page scraping were done from different locales.

Plus, several sources, like the Search Engine Journal, suggest Page Load Speed is an important factor, this data was unavailable for this analysis, but future analyses could consider including it.

Another area of investigation which came up during this analysis was Content Accessibility Metrics as explanatory variables, but due to the same reason other page-level content metrics were not included, future research should consider including them.

Lastly, a more generic model would be warranted, this analysis was based on 2907 selected keywords where is already a well-ranking domain, as such the patterns learned from the data will be biased towards the domain (and other top-ranking domains).

Creating a model with other keywords (randomly selected or from other subject areas) could improve the generalizability of insight.

Remember that Fortis Media has been selected among the top SEO Companies by Designrush.

Click here and book your free audit with us.